Phillips & Associates

Westchester County Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Employment Attorneys Representing Workers in Westchester County

Westchester County has an estimated population of about a million residents. Fortune 500 companies headquartered there include IBM, PepsiCo, MasterCard, and Universal American. Sexual orientation discrimination is prohibited in New York workplaces. Whether your sexual orientation is as a gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, or heterosexual person, it should not be the basis for an employer's adverse employment action against you. If you believe that you have been a victim of this misconduct, you should consult the Westchester County sexual orientation discrimination lawyers at Phillips & Associates.

State Laws on Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Westchester County employees are protected from sexual orientation discrimination by the New York Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA). Discrimination against an employee for his or her actual or perceived sexual orientation, whether he or she is gay, lesbian, bisexual, heterosexual, or asexual, is forbidden under SONDA as long as the employer has at least four employees.

Your employer is not supposed to refuse to hire you, terminate you, fail to promote you, pay you less, not pay a bonus, or otherwise treat you adversely in the terms or conditions of employment based on your sexual orientation. For example, if your manager refuses to promote you because he thinks that gay people should not be in leadership positions in the company and believes that you are gay (even if you are not), this would be sexual orientation discrimination.

On the other hand, SONDA has exemptions. Our sexual orientation discrimination attorneys can advise Westchester County employees on whether an exemption may apply to their situation. For example, if your employer is a church or other religious institution, it can restrict your ability to work if it has calculated that those decisions will boost the religious tenets for which it was created or is being maintained. For example, if you come out as a lesbian at the church where you work, the church may not be culpable under SONDA for terminating you.

If you wish to pursue remedies under SONDA based on sexual orientation discrimination, you may be able to obtain relief by filing a charge with the New York State Division of Human Rights within a year of the most recent act of discrimination, but you may also be able to sue directly. You may be better off suing directly rather than filing a charge, but it is critical to talk to an experienced Westchester County sexual orientation discrimination attorney to determine what the best course of action would be.

Title VII and Uncertainty Under Federal Law

In many cases, SONDA provides relief for sexual orientation discrimination. However, there might be some situations in which filing a charge under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 may be the appropriate path. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency tasked with enforcing Title VII, along with certain other anti-discrimination laws. Its guidance has set forth that sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, which is prohibited under Title VII. However, courts have ruled in contrasting ways on this point, with some courts determining that sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination but others finding that sexual orientation discrimination is not prohibited under Title VII because it is not explicitly mentioned. You should consult an attorney about your situation to determine whether you should bring a claim under state law, federal law, or both. It may depend on the specific events that happened to you.

Contact a Sexual Orientation Discrimination Lawyer in Westchester County

At Phillips & Associates, our experienced attorneys help clients who have faced sexual orientation discrimination, as well as many other forms of discrimination, such as race, national origin, religion, and disability discrimination. If you believe that you have been a victim of sexual orientation discrimination, you should contact us at (212) 248-7431 or through our online form for a free consultation. We represent clients in cities such as Yonkers, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, and White Plains.

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